If you were trying to assemble small computer that would fit into sexy case that looks just great in your living room and could act as a multimedia center PC to play music, DVD and even some simple games, until recently there was only one option – all-in-one mini-ITX boards from VIA. These included VIA C3 or C7 CPU, integrated graphics, audio, LAN, USB and firewire. There are however few problems with these mainboards – the CPU is everything but fast, the graphics is good only for 2D, and the price is way too high even for the lowest model. And since every component is soldered to the PCB it cannot be replaced or upgraded at all.
There is new competition in the market that comes from the current king of CPU’s – Intel. Same mini-ITX format of only 172x172mm, the better of two available models BLKD201GLY2 called ‘Little Valley’ has the following specs:
– SiS662 + SiS964 chipset with integrated SiS Mirage 1 GPU
– up to 1GB DDR2 PC4300 memory
– Intel Celeron 220 @ 1.2GHz – based on Core 2, TDP 19W
– 1x IDE, 2x SATA, 1x PCI, 1x 10/100 Ethernet, 6x USB, VGA, audio
From the specs it is obvious that it is no miracle performer, graphic adapter is as bad as the one in VIA, but the CPU is about 4 times more powerful than the C3 and most importantly – for 1/3 of the VIA’s cost.
The street price of the above configuration, believe it or not, is $75. Just add $25 for 1GB DDR2 memory module and $60 for 60GB 2.5 inch mobile hard drive and you have fully working computer that would be powerful enough for majority of users. And since the board is so small it deserves to be placed into small computer case, which ironically would be the most expensive part of our PC – but nice ones including 100W power supply can be bough for as low as $120.